So we all know they're bad, but am I alone when I say I've never actually understood why? The fact that they were, was enough for me. But I've been thinking for a while now that I really needed to do some reading on the topic to have some real conviction behind my attempt to ban them from our house. So last night I read a couple of articles online; one entitled "What's wrong with Hydrogenated Oils?" and the other, "Trans Fats, Metabolic Poisons." They were the first I stumbled on, so I'm sure there are much better, more accredited studies out there, but these were educational nonetheless.
(Permission to stop reading if you are actually going to read the articles, are already educated in the matter, or are just un-interested... because here is my attempt at a brief summary.)
Hydrogenated oils (oil that has been heated with hydrogen and the chemical makeup is changed in the process, now containing hydrogen bubbles and becoming a solid, like Crisco) contain tons of Trans fats. They are literally poisons. In the same way that arsenic is a poison because it restricts oxygen from getting to your cells, hydrogenated oils restrict nutrients from getting to your body's cells. They also allow tons of bad things through, allergens, carcinogens, and other toxins. Carcinogens cause cancer. I didn't know that.
Saturated fats have always sounded like the culprits-- they are nowhere near as dangerous as Trans fats. While they are not "good" for you, the essential fatty acids in fat ARE, and they are at least able to be burned. The trans fats bind themselves to cell walls in your body, because as a once essential fat (i.e. good oils that haven't been over heated) they are supposed to have a function in your body (acting as guard at the cell wall, letting in the good stuff, keeping out the bad.) However while the side that binds to the cell wall remains unchanged, and so still binds, the side that is supposed to do the work is ruined in the hydrogenation process. So instead of letting in the good and keeping out the bad, it does just the opposite. It allows the toxins to pass through while keeping the things out that help your brain, immune system, metabolism, heart etc... to function properly. The articles I read describe adamantly that hydrogenated oils are just like tobacco, they will kill you over time. They lead to allergies, cancer, auto-immune disease (your body attacks itself), diabetes, obesity, and more.
"Until the 1970's, food producers used coconut oil to get that buttery flavor and texture. The American obesity epidemic began when it was replaced with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil -- most often soybean oil." It is a much cheaper fat, which of course is reason enough for the food industry to put it in just about EVERYTHING processed. We all know the less processed the better, but make exceptions for plenty of foods. I sure do. I love the idea of a completely healthful, whole food diet... but love treats far too much to ever really be a health "nut" (as you can tell from my slightly more than rail thin frame ;)) However, I just feel like there should be no place in my home for this particular evil, and especially no place in Sophia's diet.
I will say I was shocked when I looked a little more thoroughly at my labels. I knew to watch out for them in anything packaged in my pantry like snacks for Sophia, crackers, chips, cereals, bars (granola/protein/"fruit"). I didn't really think they used them in ice cream. I mean I never thought ice cream was good for you, but I've been addicted to Dreyers Light Mint and Chip for a while now, and thought it was a lesser evil. So sad to say it has them, as do Skinny Cow's. I think it's worth eating the full fat Breyers with all natural ingredients. At least then it's just a matter of not over-eating, but not a matter of poisoning yourself.
Wow this might be the most boring post ever. But I couldn't stop reading about this stuff last night and thought I had to share, just in case somebody cares like me, but also hasn't found the time to actually learn the dangers. The articles of course say SO much more than I did, SO much clearer than I did.
I realize that perhaps, like a smoker, I won't be able to completely quit overnight (I mean I do have half a carton of light ice cream in my freezer waiting :0) but also, like a smoker, I see no reason to share my addiction with Sophia, with her tiny, pure body. I'm all for home cooking, baking, and enjoying splurges, but they never HAVE to include this crap. (Had to call it what it is.) Sugars, fats, carbs.... in excess, yes dangerous, but in moderation, burnable. Trans fats- pure poison.
I will now step down from the soap box.
(High Fructose Corn Syrup, second evil---- but a blog for another day. :) )